Best APA-Accredited School Psychology Psy.D. Programs for 2020
The best school psychology Psy.D. programs provide academic learning as well as both research and clinical training for aspiring doctors of psychology. Some programs focus specifically on school psychology. Others blend separate but related disciplines into the program, such as school and clinical psychology or school-community psychology.
How We Chose These School Psychology Psy.D. Programs
This list introduces you to the 11 school Psy.D. programs that have earned full APA accreditation (published in December 2019 using the latest available information from the APA). The schools are ranked in descending order of the percentage of recent graduates who went on to earn their licenses. Licensure rate is significant because although a doctoral degree earns you the title of “psychologist,” no one can practice without a state license.
Tuition information is listed for each school, but it’s important to note that graduate programs often come with special rules regarding academic funding. For example, tuition may be waived until a certain year of the program. It may be waived altogether. Or, students may receive a stipend, assistantship, fellowship, or some other type of award to offset the cost of tuition.
In some cases, our descriptions of these programs refer to certain instructional models or schools of thought about psychology.
James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Virginia)
98% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The Psy.D. program at James Madison University results in a combined, integrated clinical and school psychology doctoral degree. With 25 years of history, it’s the university’s oldest doctoral program. The applied psychology C-I program is designed specifically for students who already hold graduate degrees in mental health fields, including counseling psychology, school psychology, and clinical psychology. Most students complete the program in four years after three years of coursework and a one-year internship. Throughout the first three academic years, the curriculum is supplemented with sequenced practicum experiences that build up to the predoctoral internship. The program follows an integrative training model and focuses on elements such as integrative theory, the scientific humanistic approach, and respect for diversity. All students are required to complete a scholarly dissertation.
Not only does the program boast a 98% licensure rate for qualified graduates, but 93% of students in the program are placed in APA/CPA-accredited internships. A full 100% of all students accepted into the program receive full tuition waivers and assistantships. Also, students will have regular opportunities to present with faculty at major professional conferences, including those hosted by the APA.
Yeshiva University (Bronx, New York)
95% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The Psy.D. program at Yeshiva University focuses on children, adolescents, and families, but degree candidates will also work directly with parents, couples, and individuals with other needs. Upon graduation, students will be qualified to deliver treatment and services in not just schools, but early childhood centers, mental health facilities, and medical centers. The practicums requirements are extensive, including a yearlong cognitive behavior therapy treatment that takes place through the university’s clinic and a yearlong psychodynamic psychotherapy treatment. Also, students will conduct neuropsychological, psychoeducational, and psychological evaluations. In total, the program delivers 3,500 hours of supervised clinical experiences in a variety of settings, most of which take place in diverse and multicultural urban centers. The five-year, 110-credit program consists of four years of coursework, externships, and practicums followed by a full-year internship. It cannot be completed in fewer than five years.
More than 900 students have graduated from the program, which boasts a high 95% licensure rate for eligible graduates. The program is not only accredited by the APA but is also recognized by the National Association of School Psychologists. Available concentrations include psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy.
Pace University (New York, New York)
88% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The school-clinical child psychology Psy.D. program at Pace University aims to produce psychologists who are qualified to research, develop, provide, and supervise a broad range of evidence-based psychological services. They’ll also be prepared to offer educational and clinical consultation as well as expertise in both clinical and school settings to both children and families. The program follows the practitioner-scholar model and integrates academic learning and field experience. It focuses on preparing students to deliver psychological service, but also includes significant work in theoretical academia and research methodology. The six-year program consists of 110 credits and includes the qualifying examination after the first year and the proficiency examination and comprehensive examination during year three or four. A full-time, yearlong internship dominates the fifth year, and distributed internships take place during the third and fourth years.
Unlike many comparable options, this combined program allows students to pursue their Psy.D. on either a full-time or part-time basis, provided they finish the program in 10 years. Whenever possible, students are placed in paid internships. The program has earned an 88% licensure rate among eligible graduates.
Kean University (Union, New Jersey)
68% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing (to download this data, click on the “Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data (Psychology)” link towards the bottom of the page)
The school and clinical psychology Psy.D. program at Kean University educates and trains students across both areas of practice. The program, which has a 68% licensure rate, accepts only about 12 students per year and offers practicum opportunities that take place both in campus-based sites and community service facilities. The small class size allows the faculty to place an emphasis on a mentor-student model of learning. The base of the program’s training is the study of assessment and intervention as it applies to both scholarly activity and applied work. The program, however, also includes significant research components. Students will complete a formal doctoral dissertation, participate in scientific inquiry throughout the program, and have the opportunity to join faculty members in presenting and publishing opportunities.
The program stands out for its early practicum integration. Starting in the second year, students provide assessment or psychotherapeutic services to clients through Kean Psychological Services. This early clinical exposure prepares students for a full-time internship in a school or clinical setting, which takes place during the program’s final year through a national match process.
Hofstra University (Hempstead, New York)
65% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
Long Island’s Hofstra University offers a combined Psy.D. in school-community psychology. It includes five specialty clinics and is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists. The program, which follows the practitioner-scholar model, provides instruction on both school- and community-based research. After you’re accepted into the program and submit a deposit, you can apply to the director for financial assistance. Aid comes in the form of fellowships, scholarships, awards, or assistantships, which virtually all full-time students receive. The program offers electives through the School of Education and Allied Human Services and the School of Law.
This program is unique in that it prepares students to work with children in not just schools but also external community-based settings such as human service agencies and mental health centers. That means students receive training that’s traditional to school psychology, such as psychological assessment and intervention, as well as training usually associated with community service care involving family dynamics. Another unique feature is that all students are placed into extended, two-year internships that would be equivalent to six-day-per-week placements if they had been completed in one year. Following the combined school-community theme, third-year internships take place in schools, and fourth-year placements are in community settings.
Rutgers—the State University of New Jersey (Piscataway, New Jersey)
58% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
Rutgers offers a Psy.D. in school psychology that follows the practitioner-scholar model of training. It stresses the integration of scientific knowledge and practical delivery of psychological services to groups, families, individuals, and organizations. The program’s cumulative learning model uses each level of progression to build on skills and knowledge acquired in the previous level. Practicum courses are embedded into each year of the curriculum, but the first part of the program focuses on developing basic professional practice skills and foundational knowledge. The practicum sequence takes place over three semesters beginning in the second semester of the first year. In total, students register for 150 hours of practicum, including 30 hours of advanced supervision. The culminating experience is a 1,500-hour internship, at least 25% of which (375 hours) must be spent providing direct psychological services to clients.
The school is home to the Rutgers School Psychology Internship Consortium, an Association of Psychological Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC)–member internship. The consortium is partially affiliated with the graduate school psychology program.
St. John’s University (Queens, New York)
55% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The St. John’s University Psy.D. program is available in two tracks, one traditional and another for bilingual study. Both require the completion of 105 credits and the passage of the clinical competencies comprehensive examination and the PRAXIS II examination. All candidates for the degree will complete a yearlong internship as well as a doctoral dissertation. Both tracks run five years, with the fifth and final year dedicated to doctoral research and the internship. The bilingual track fulfills the New York State Department of Education requirements for bilingual certification. That option requires the completion of 36 credits (12 courses) from the general school psychology program. General track students have the option of taking a summer semester after their first year to assist with studies and external practicum sites.
The university awards doctoral fellowships to the most qualified graduate students. Doctoral fellows will work 18 hours per week in the Department of Psychology in support of faculty research. Additionally, assistantships are offered in both non-academic and academic departments. They come with tuition remission and sometimes a stipend.
Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
40% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
Nova Southeastern University’s school psychology program follows the Vail practitioner-informed-by-science learning model. Consisting of 118 credits, the program usually takes four years to complete, although students are allowed up to seven years under some circumstances. It is designed to prepare students to serve not just children in schools, but also families and educational staff. It includes a 2,000-hour internship and several different practicum variations. Practicum experiences take place at the University School of NSU and the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development, both of which are part of the Nova Southeastern community. Students may also participate in a grant-funded summer research and service project for at-risk children in Miami-Dade County, as well as in practicum opportunities in public schools across three counties. The capstone research project is called Direct Study, which is based on each student’s individual interest and emerging area of expertise.
The program places a heavy emphasis on research, offering students ongoing opportunities to complement their academic and clinical training. The faculty has impressive credentials, boasting many instructors who serve as active practitioners, many with leadership positions in the field. Two current faculty members formerly served as presidents of the National Association of School Psychologists.
University at Albany (Albany, New York)
33% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The 94-credit Psy.D. program at the University at Albany integrates theory, research, and practice as part of a practitioner-scientist model of training, which is built on two complementary program goals. Those goals are profession-wide competencies and discipline-specific knowledge. Initial coursework includes general psychology, educational foundations, school psychology, and methods of inquiry. Students also must pass comprehensive exams, conduct field training, and complete a dissertation called Advanced Field Experience. Finally, the experience culminates with an internship that takes place over one full-time year or two part-time years beyond the 94 credits included in the program. From the very start of the program, students participate in various research projects, many of which can lead to publications and conference presentations. It’s important to note that students who enter the program without a Master’s of Science degree or a certificate of advanced study (C.A.S.) will first need to complete a master’s in educational psychology and then a C.A.S. in school psychology. Master’s work will count toward the larger Psy.D. program.
Unlike many Psy.D. programs, the Albany program has a generous transfer policy. Students can transfer as many as 47 credits earned from graduate studies from other institutions. Transfer credits can be applied both to didactic courses and to practicum experience provided certain specific criteria are met.
William James University (Newton, Massachusetts)
16% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The Psy.D. school psychology program at William James University culminates in a Psy.D., but also includes a master of arts degree and certificate of advanced graduate study (C.A.G.S.). Those who already have a qualifying master’s, a C.A.G.S., or both might be eligible for advanced standing and a shorter passage through the program. Those who do not and instead enter the program with only a bachelor’s degree should expect to dedicate five to seven years to completing the program. The initial master’s/C.A.G.S. portion of the program consists of both coursework and fieldwork totaling 66 credits earned over three years. The Psy.D. portion that comes next consists of advanced coursework designed to prepare students for leadership and supervisory roles, as well as to deliver unique or advanced services that are not found in most ordinary school settings. That work brings the credit total to 120–124 for those who complete a two-year internship. To qualify for licensure, students will have to then complete a post-graduation professional experience.
The program offers several concentrations that reflect on its commitment to diversity and culture. Available concentrations include African and Caribbean mental health, children and families of adversity and resilience (CFAR), global mental health, and Latino mental health.
Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
14% of graduates in past 10 years received licensing
The 91-credit school psychology Psy.D. program at Duquesne University is not only accredited by the APA but approved by the National Association of School Psychologists as well. It follows the local-clinical scientist training model. A focus on diversity and multiculturalism is woven into the program, which includes a yearlong applied project that requires students to study and address a problem of applied practice. By the end of the program, students will have learned to take empirically validated research programs and interventions and apply them to unique communities and individuals in practice settings.
Students who submit the most competitive applications are eligible for graduate assistantships and employment. Graduate assistants might receive stipends for their work—which could include aiding faculty members in tutoring, research, and administrative duties—as well as full or partial tuition scholarships.
About APA Accreditation vs. Other Types of Accreditation
The American Psychology Association’s Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA) is the only accrediting authority for psychology education and training recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. School psychology is one of three doctoral areas of study that the APA accredits, in addition to clinical psychology and counseling psychology. Programs that earn APA accreditation have been vetted and verified for educational quality and delivery. Some states’ licensing agencies and potential employers require a degree from an APA-accredited doctoral program. Doctoral programs that are non-APA-accredited rely instead on their institutional accreditation by a national or regional accrediting body to verify their educational standards.
Defining Instructional Models
- Practitioner-scientist model (also called the practitioner-scholar model): The goal of this model is to train clinicians to use scientific research as a foundation for the applied work they do, and, conversely, to use their clinical experiences to promote scientific research.
- Local-clinical scientist training model: This type of training teaches candidates to consider local contextual variables while applying concepts founded in scientific theory and literature.
- Vail practitioner-informed-by-science learning model: This model was created to produce psychology clinicians along the same lines that medical schools produce physicians and law schools produce lawyers. It prioritizes clinical skills and focuses on practical, hands-on training as a method for informing scholarly projects.
- Integrative psychotherapy model: The overarching goal of this model is to respond to the person. It focuses on cognitive, behavioral, affective, and physiological aspects of a person’s life, as well as to their spiritual beliefs.
- Scientific humanistic approach: The approach contends that different cultures are too diverse to be explained by a scientific approach. It recognizes the uniqueness of each all cultures.
- Psychodynamic theory: According to this tradition, humans are often driven by unconscious forces and motivations that they do not have access to. Personality is formed mainly by childhood experiences, which are often stored in the unconscious mind. The tradition is based on a collection of the theories of Sigmund Freud and his followers (such as Jung, Erikson, and Adler).
- Cognitive-behavioral theory: This approach looks at how our thoughts influence the ways that we feel and behave. When used therapeutically, the goal is to shape a person’s thoughts to make positive behavioral changes.
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